Will you be the "rounding error"?

Barack Obama makes a lot of claims about the stimulus package, especially on its impact on unemployment, but Politico notices that they don’t add up — literally.  A chart produced by the White House projecting job stimulation shows large differences between state figures and the totals of the districts included in them.  The Obama administration calls these “rounding errors”, but it looks a lot more like bad math:

A White House estimate of the number of jobs stimulus legislation will create includes some sharp discrepancies between state and local jobs claims.

Those differences — which the document suggests are large rounding errors — was spotted by the office of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, which assembled the chart above. It comes as the White House is seeking to define the stimulus package as a jobs bill, and to focus locally on the jobs it will create. …

“State totals may not sum due to rounding,” the chart says at the bottom, though in some cases — most dramatically, understandably, in small states — the rounding error represents a large share of the projected jobs. In small states with just one congressional district, which represents the whole state, the difference is particularly striking, presumably a result of different methods of calculating the job figures for the same set of residents.

Rounding?  Ben Smith shows some of the examples, which are laughably off:

  • Delaware – State projection 11,000 jobs, total of districts 9900, off by 1100 jobs
  • District of Columbia – “State” projection 12,000 jobs, “district” projection 7200, off by 40%
  • Nevada – State projection 34,000, total of districts 29,400, off by 4600 jobs

And so on.  Clearly, the White House is using the time-honored mathematical method of pulling numbers out of one’s rear end.  They are so bad about it that no one at the White House apparently thought to reconcile the numbers to see whether they even came close to agreement before publishing them.  If someone produced numbers like this in the private sector for a project, they’d be fired.  In the public sector, they get to run things.

Can we afford to take economic policy from an administration who can’t even figure out addition?

No wonder Judd Gregg resigned as Commerce Secretary.  Apparently, he can actually do math.  It does explain why so many people in the Obama administration have problems with their taxes.